By Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) - The 17th war journalism training program by Anadolu Agency, Turkey’s premier news agency, continued on Thursday to educate international correspondents to operate in conflict-ridden areas.
A total of 23 international journalists from across 15 countries are trained in how to survive in crises and war-torn conflict zones, while reporting under emergency situations around the globe.
The 12-day program, organized under the supervision of the agency’s News Academy and in collaboration with the Turkish Police Academy, Turkish Armed Forces, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) -- the state development aid agency -- and Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), began on Sept. 23, and is scheduled to end on Oct. 4.
During the training program, the participants have experienced hiking, night camping, as well as were informed on cases of kidnapping and hostage in the war-torn areas under the control and supervision of Turkish Armed Forces personnel.
The trainees were also trained in survival skills in the conflict zones, such as crawling, passing under the barriers, surviving in areas with lack of infrastructure and limited resources.
The correspondents also received training from the search and rescue team of Turkey's AFAD, obtaining relevant knowledge on the basis of surviving during the natural disasters, especially earthquakes, with theoretical and practical applications on the ground, including passing through the narrow corridors under the debris of a collapsed building -- simulative structure for training AFAD's personnel.
Ramazan Yerli, a search and rescue personnel from AFAD, told Anadolu Agency that the war journalist candidates have also been educated on the survival techniques, as well as basics of the psychosocial support in disasters.
The participants have passed through station works in the form of urban search and rescue at high places and developed climbing skills, he added.
The candidates also got familiar with the main equipment during the initial stages of search and rescue operations, and practiced using them on the ground, Yerli said.
The trainees also participated in the search and rescue practice with a trained sniffer dog, which easily found a journalist hiding under the debris.
"The initial training will help war journalist candidates to act more consciously, providing them with the knowledge on survival and psychological support in challenging environments," Yerli added.
Following the courses in AFAD, the participants continued their training with the helicopter flight in the capital Ankara, while two of trainees had rappelled from helicopter with the supervision of instructors from AFAD and Turkish Armed Forces.
Anastasiia Fedchenko, a war journalist from Ukraine, said that she didn't expect the training would be "so saturated", adding that it was "very important" for her.
Fedchenko said she learned how to avoid panick in emergencies, and added: "In general, keeping your mind calm is the main lesson of this training."
Classes on mapping and orientation in nature were also very beneficial, she stressed.
"Another important lesson is to be a team, no matter what happens, because sometimes the lives of other people literally depend on you," the war journalist concluded.
Ihor Medelian, a special correspondent of Ukrainian international UATV channel, said that: "Training from Anadolu Agency helps the journalist to reveal the true capabilities and strengths."
Medelian said he learned a lot about first aid, survival in water, during earthquakes, military hostilities and terrorist attacks.
"Indeed, with the help of acquired knowledge, we can take care not only of our lives, but also of other people who are in critical situations," the journalist said.
Discipline is very important during the training -- both in theoretical and practical training-- he added.
"The war journalism training program is a great opportunity to meet colleagues from other countries, make contacts and cooperation agreements to work together in the future," Medelian said.
"After experiencing the difficulties together and having interesting conversations during the first two weeks of the training, I began to perceive these strangers [training participants] as one big family where everyone is ready to support each other at the right moment," he added.
During the first week of the program, besides theoretical knowledge, the journalists were also trained in first aid, close defense, use of gas masks, surviving in water and advance driving techniques.
The schedule differs from that of other training programs in terms of duration, theoretical and practical course hours. The successful participants will be awarded with internationally recognized certificates.